The end of Felix Magath

Well there we go, it happened.

It’s pointless trying to defend the undefendable – clearly Magath was not fit for purpose – but as with most recent Fulham decisions, the timing is iffy.

Honestly, you decide after an away defeat to the top of the table team that enough is enough?

Never mind. It’s a long season and there’s plenty of petrol left in the tank.

Whatever the manager’s merits, at some point you have to take supporter sentiment into account. Tension, anger and frustration have a way of finding their way onto the pitch. The players needed room to breathe. Magath had to go, for every reason.

In some ways the next manager walks into a reasonable position. Magath has done a lot of the dirty work in overhauling the relegation squad. Now, we might not like what he did after he’d overhauled it, but it was a big job and he ploughed through it with some (too much?) gusto.

The new manager also inherits a team that is, if not in a false position, then at least in a position from which we might reasonably expect a significant rebound. It’s the sort of role Harry Redknapp would have loved, jumping into a superficially sinking ship and saving it through the power of regression to the mean.

The players are okay, too. If not all of them are to the new man’s liking, at least there aren’t that many of them and they are mainly quite young. The only glaring personnel problem Magath has left behind is the absence of a goalkeeper, with two kids and Gabor Kiraly fighting for the no.1 jersey. It’s a battle in which nobody wins really, and the folly of letting David Stockdale go seems even worse with hindsight. We don’t know the details but it feels like an idiotic thing to have done, a transaction that might have been vetoed in a less dysfunctional organisation.

Those players that remain are hard to judge, looking fairly bewildered at their predicament. If the new manager picks the first team on merit then he has some dazzling attacking talent to draw on. If he can organise the defence, too, Fulham should be a reasonably good team quite quickly.

Magath feels like the closing of a particularly ridiculous phase in Fulham’s history. The ineptness of the Jol era, the Meulensteen/Curbishley/Wilkins fiasco, then Felix Magath… a long-running comedy of cock-ups. We could say that the next appointment is crucial, but it’s not just that. Looking back, the club’s approach to recruitment has veered all over the place in recent years, with each manager emphasising different types from different regions. Where is the overall direction here? Have the board ceded too much control to too many people?

It feels that way. And for an industry where so much money is flying around, the decision making has often been bewildering. We’ve mentioned Stockdale, but seeing Kasami and Mitroglou having some Champions League success more or less sums up what an absolute shambles Fulham have become. Good enough for the highest level of football, but not for Fulham? And our friend Bryan Ruiz, who had such a fine World Cup, can’t get a game in the Championship. Riiight. These are not the decisions of a club working effectively.

The other stuff – the bewildering team selections, the harsh substitutions, the dropping of players, these might not be optimal management but they’re all things that a manager can reasonably do. The big decisions though, there should be some sort of high level control here. You can’t just walk into a club and act with a free hand; it shouldn’t work that way. Everyone here has a lot of questions to answer. If this were English cricket there’d be an enquiry into prolonged poor performance. I’m sure Mr Khan’s businesses would do the same if one went badly wrong over a sustained period of time, made a series of bad decisions. It’s time for Fulham FC to have a good look in the mirror and decide what it wants to be. Are we blitzing the Championship on the back of mega-spending? Are we coaxing the youth team into a machine for the future? Whatever is decided the fans need to understand the message and need to be on-board with it. The latter is easier said than done, but fans will respond to things being done in what might be called “the right way.” This was always Magath’s problem: he did things badly and unconventionally, and fans never did quite work him out. Fulham can’t afford a repeat of this, so while a track record of some sort is obviously important, the intangibles are not to be overlooked either. Danny Murphy joining the existing temporary setup might make more sense than we think.

We won’t go down. We probably won’t go up. But at least now we can look forward to some kind of coherence about the club. This ought to have been a terrific season, where the kids got their chances and where we didn’t just turn up against the super-rich teams for a hiding. It’s not too late, though. Fulham have done the right thing for the first time in a long time. Let’s see what happens next.

11 thoughts on “The end of Felix Magath

  1. “Danny Murphy joining the existing temporary setup might make more sense than we think.”
    I believe you’re saying Murphy and Symons. If so, yes please! I would think the squad could get behind those two. And were the board to instill a long-term plan that worked with that set up, then wonderful.
    I’m concerned Khan will speak with a veteran manager who will convince him we can bounce back up this season, manage with short-term planning, maybe get us up, but in the end we are still an unstable club.

  2. It’s the right decision, but Kit inherits more of a mess in my opinion than in Rich’s. Which is to say that actually we will go down if the defence and defensive midfield aren’t sorted out fairly soon. Easier said than done with the existing personnel, although sticking with a settle lineup would surely help.

    Having decided that he was surviving into this new season, they couldn’t really have given Magath less time, but the possibility that he’d fail might have been foreseen with a contingency plan in place. Possibly they did have one and he’s fled.

  3. Feels like the start of the season again, but with a huge points deduction. A degree of optimism but we still don’t really know what this team can achieve. I think following relegation you only have 2 years to bounce back before the money has gone. I think you’re right Rich about the organisation, some other personnel changes are need. Really interested to see Kit’s first team selection. Should show his view on quality and readiness of squad.

  4. Managerial choices tend to be between the untried and the already failed. Post Hodgson we’ve tried both and it’s been a disaster but the worst pick of all is the manager who has passed his sell by date which sums up Jol and Magath.

    Kit ticks three big boxes. He’s served an apprenticeship, he knows our players particularly the young ones and he gets the club.

    Does he have what it takes to be a manager? Personally I’d like the club to go slow on finding a replacement and give Kit a few weeks to see how he shapes up.

    Murphy strikes me as a number one or nothing.

  5. Relief that Magath has gone, but I’m not sure about your Danny Murphy idea.

    He was a great player, especially for us, and an obvious leader as captain. He certainly “gets” Fulham. But has he done his coaching badges? He has said since he finished playing that he had no plans to go into coaching / management, which requires different skills and mindset from being the excellent football analyst that he obviously is.

    I like the idea of Danny coming back to Fulham but fear it could be a bit like Martin Johnson becoming coach of the England rugby team. A great former player and captain, but one who had not gone through the coaching mill to earn his spurs. It ended badly.

    I do agree that Kit Symons should be given time to see what he can do. If it transpires that he is not the right man, there is time to make an appointment before the January transfer window.

    1. As you were: Murphy is now saying he would be interested (as manager) if the club wanted him.I still have reservations about his qualifications for the job, though his commitment to and interest in the club are without question.

      Is it viable to want to be a manager, but only at a certain club? I suppose that is what Bedford Jezzard did and if Murphy could emulate him I’d be happy, but I’m not sure that the concept would work today.

  6. I feel like a Munchkin: Ding Dong the Witch is Dead. We can hopefully all come out and start having fun again.

    Heart tells me we will win tomorrow and go on a winning streak.

    Head tells me to be realistic.

    Will be interesting to see if the players react positively. As Rich made the point in an earlier post: can he have been that bad (at training, man management, etc) if McCormack didn’t warn Smith off. (Although perhaps the conversation went something like.

    RM: “He’s mad, we all hate him, really you don’t want to be here. Big mistake.”.

    MS: “But they are doubling my pay, and Leeds are going down the plughole”.

    RM: “OK, if they offer you plenty of dosh, do come along, he’ll be gone soon or by Christmas at the latest. And then we will recover with us two and Hugo leading the line.”.

  7. Felix’s poistion quickly became untenable at Fulham, if you are going to be a bastard, you have to be a bastard that wins. He did some good things (squad clear out) and many bad (no coherant strategy, felix bingo, terrible man management etc) but we start with a cleaner slate than of late. We have the bulk of the season to go and as you say Rich, a team in somewhat of a false position.

    Some stability in the form of Kit Symons is probably in order for a while, see if he can get the balance between young and old right. I think there is a fair bit of talent in this squad, but we are lacking in a few key areas. If we can improve and muddle through to Jan then we could go on a late run this season. For now though, the immediate aim is to get some points on the board and considering the way the luck has fallen initially this season, I think the new man may be in for his fair share of it over the next few months!

  8. Regularly read your posts and there always spot on! Let’s hope the Club backs Kit and goes down the “youth for the future” road.. also the point on FFC fans “never really working out FM” is the nail on the head. Great read.

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